Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval took a commanding victory in a Le Mans 24 Hours that was overshadowed by the death of Danish driver Allan Simonsen early in the race.
For Kristensen it was a ninth win in the race and extended the record he already held. McNish took his third Le Mans win while Duval, who put the car on pole last Wednesday, claimed success in the race for the first time.
Audi has now won the event for 12 of the last 14 years.
Duval assumed the lead in the #2 R18 e-tron quattro in the seventh hour when the Benoit Treluyer/Andre Lotterer/Marcel Fassler #1 car, which had held the advantage from the start, spent 12 laps in the pits while an alternator problem was fixed.
A puncture sustained in traffic while Oliver Jarvis was at the wheel put the #3 Audi on the back foot at around the same time. The machine later needed further bodywork repairs that dropped it a further lap off the pace an hour later.
While the #1 car dropped outside the top 20 and the #3 fell to sixth, the Toyotas moved up to second and third.
Sebastien Buemi even had the audacity to get his #8 TS030 HYBRID back on the lead lap in the final half-hour to claim a well-deserved runner-up spot with Anthony Davidson and Stephane Sarrazin, but the #7 was not so lucky.
After losing third to Jarvis with four hours to go, Nicolas Lapierre crashed heavily at the Porsche curves, but amazingly managed to get his car back to the pits and repaired without dropping any more spots.
The Strakka HPD of Jonny Kane/Danny Watts/Nick Leventis finished sixth after the Rebellion Lola challenge was blunted by a safety car-inducing shunt for Andrea Belicchi on Sunday morning and gearbox problems for the #12 car that boasted Neel Jani and Nick Heidfeld on its line-up.
OAK WINS LMP2 BATTLE
OAK Racing claimed a one-two finish in LMP2; Bertrand Baguette recovering from a spin in the final hour when heavy rain doused the circuit to take victory with Ricardo Gonzalez and Martin Plowman.
Second was the sister Morgan-Nissan of Olivier Pla/Alex Brundle/David Heinemeier Hansson while Mike Conway/John Martin/Roman Rusinov were third in their G-Drive/Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan.
The G-Drive machine lost two laps - the margin it finished behind the winner - to a slow puncture early on and an unscheduled pitstop to change regulation lighting panels on the side of the car during the night.
GTE Pro: PORSCHE DEFEATS ASTON AT LAST GASP
For a large portion of the race the GTE Pro division looked likely to be dominated by an Aston Martin Racing squad still in mourning after news of Simonsen's death broke on Saturday evening.
A heavy crash from leader Frederic Makowiecki at the second Mulsanne chicane with five and a half hours to go handed the advantage to the sister Vantage GTE of Stefan Mucke/Darren Turner/Rob Bell.
But as the race moved along the #92 Manthey-run factory Porsche of Richard Lietz/Marc Lieb/Romain Dumas came into contention.
The late rain shower led to a range of strategies being adopted. Lietz stayed out on dry tyres when the weather was at its worst and was then able to use the fact that Mucke had been held in the pits by a red light to open up what would be a winning a four-minute advantage at a stroke.
With the sister #91 Porsche of Patrick Pilet/Jorg Bergmeister/Timo Bernhard also making a smart tyre call at this point the Aston was relegated to third.
Neither the factory Corvettes, nor the AF Corse Ferraris were ever in contention; Toni Vilander throwing away fifth in one of the Italian machines when he planted his in the tyres at Mulsanne corner when the rain came.
GTE Am: IMSA PORSCHE WINS AFTER TRAGEDY
Aston also led the GTE Am division early on until polesitter Simonsen crashed fatally at Tertre Rouge on lap three; the Vantage GTE causing extensive damage to the crash barriers on the exit of the corner.
Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin picked up the baton and led first six hours in the #61 AF Corse Ferrari, but dropped down the order after co-driver Jack Gerber spun several times.
As the race developed and the #88 Proton and #77 Dempsey Del Piero Porsches suffered various maladies, the #76 Imsa 911 GT3 RSR of Jean-Karl Vernay/Raymond Narac/Christophe Bourret came to the fore.
A one-lap advantage was established with four hours to go, which proved enough to give the French trio victory ahead of the #55 AF Corse machine of Piergiuseppe Perazzini/Darryl O'Young/Lorenzo Case. The #61 car finished third.
Results - 348 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. P1 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi 24h01m16.436s 2. P1 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota +1 lap 3. P1 Gene/di Grassi/Jarvis Audi +1 lap 4. P1 Wurz/lapierre/Nakajima Toyota +7 laps 5. P1 Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer Audi +10 laps 6. P1 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka HPD +16 laps 7. P2 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Morgan-Nissan +19 laps 8. P2 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Morgan-Nissan +20 laps 9. P2 Rusinov/Martin/Conway Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan +21 laps 10. P2 Mardenborough/Ordonez/Krumm Greaves Zytek-Nissan +21 laps 11. P2 Perez Companc/Kaffer/Minassian Pecom ORECA-Nissan +23 laps 12. P2 Gachnang/Mailleux/Lombard Morand Morgan-Judd +28 laps 13. P2 Hartley/Patterson/Chandhok Murphy ORECA-Nissan +29 laps 14. P2 Dolan/Turvey/Luhr Jota Zytek-Nissan +29 laps 15. P2 Panciatici/Ragues/Gommendy Signatech Alpine-Nissan +31 laps 16. GTEP Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Manthey Porsche +33 laps 17. GTEP Bergmeister/Pilet/Bernhard Manthey Porsche +33 laps 18. GTEP Dumbreck/Mucke/Turner Aston Martin +34 laps 19. P2 Frey/Niederhauser/Bleekemolen Race Performance ORECA-Judd +34 laps 20. GTEP Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette +36 laps 21. GTEP Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander AF Ferrari +36 laps 22. GTEP Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli AF Ferrari +37 laps 23. GTEP Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette +39 laps 24. P2 Kimber-Smith/Lux/Rossi Greaves Zytek-Nissan +41 laps 25. GTEP Dalziel/Farnbacher/Goossens SRT Viper +42 laps 26. GTEA Narac/Bourret/Vernay Imsa Porsche +42 laps 27. GTEA Perazzini/Case/O'Young AF Ferrari +43 laps 28. GTEA Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Ferrari +43 laps 29. GTEA Dempsey/Foster/Long Dempsey Del Piero Porsche +43 laps 30. GTEA Bornhauser/Canal/Taylor Larbre Corvette +46 laps 31. GTEA Campbell-Walter/Goethe/Hall Aston Martin +47 laps 32. GTEP Bomarito/Kendall/Wittmer SRT Viper +47 laps 33. P2 Downs/Dagoneau/Younessi Boutsen ORECA-Nissan +48 laps 34. GTEA Gibon/Milesi/Henzler Imsa Porsche +48 laps 35. GTEP Bertolini/Al Faisal/Al Qubaisi AF Ferrari +48 laps 36. GTEA Ried/Roda/Ruberti Proton Porsche +48 laps 37. GTEA Collard/Perrodo/Crubile Prospeed Porsche +50 laps 38. GTEA Potolicchio/Aguas/Bright 8Star Ferrari +54 laps 39. P2 Porta/Raffin/Brandela DKR Lola-Judd +68 laps 40. P1 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Lola-Toyota +73 laps 41. P1 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng Rebellion Lola-Toyota +73 laps 42. GTEA MacNeil/Rodrigues/Dumas Larbre Corvette +80 laps 43. P2 Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe Level 5 HPD-Honda +106 laps Retirements: P2 Thiriet/Badey/Martin TDS ORECA-Nissan 310 laps GTEP Bell/Makowiecki/Senna Aston Martin 248 laps P2 Nicolet/Merlin/Mondolot OAK Morgan-Nissan 246 laps P2 Imperatori/Tung/Howson KCMG Morgan-Nissan 241 laps GTEP Auberlen/Dalla Lana/Lamy Aston Martin 221 laps P2 Holzer/Kraihamer/Charouz Lotus 219 laps P2 Mowlem/Burgess/Hirschi HWM Status Lola-Judd 153 laps GTEA Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank AF Ferrari 147 laps GTEA Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani Krohn Ferrari 111 laps P2 Graves/Nakano/Hamilton Delta-ADR ORECA-Nissan 101 laps P2 Giroix/Haezebrouck/Ihara Gulf Lola-Nissan 22 laps P2 Weeda/Rossiter/Bouchut Lotus 17 laps GTEA Simonsen/Nygaard/Poulsen Aston Martin 2 laps
Autosport has produced a standalone special magazine to celebrate our 70th birthday. All current print subscribers will receive a copy for free. To order your copy of the 196-page Autosport 70th Anniversary issue, please go to: autosport.com/autosport70th